Today, President Barack Obama delivered a statement on the situation in Ukraine and Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 at the White House. President Obama said, "Yesterday, Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 took off from Amsterdam and was shot down over Ukraine near the Russian border. Nearly 300 innocent lives were taken -- men, women, children, infants -- who had nothing to do with the crisis in Ukraine. Their deaths are an outrage of unspeakable proportions."
The President also announced that at least one American citizen, Quinn Lucas Schansman, was killed. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family for this terrible loss," he said.
President Obama said he spoke with the leaders of the Ukraine, Malaysia, and the Netherlands and told them, "Our thoughts and prayers are with all the families and that the American people stand with them during this difficult time." He said he will speak with Prime Minister Abbott of Australia later today, which also suffered a terrible loss.
President Obama said, "This was a global tragedy. An Asian airliner was destroyed in European skies, filled with citizens from many countries. So there has to be a credible international investigation into what happened. The U.N. Security Council has endorsed this investigation, and we will hold all its members -- including Russia -- to their word. In order to facilitate that investigation, Russia, pro-Russian separatists, and Ukraine must adhere to an immediate cease-fire. Evidence must not be tampered with. Investigators need to access the crash site. And the solemn task of returning those who were lost on board the plane to their loved ones needs to go forward immediately."
The President continued, "I think it's important for us to recognize that this outrageous event underscores that it is time for peace and security to be restored in Ukraine. For months, we’ve supported a pathway to peace, and the Ukrainian government has reached out to all Ukrainians, put forward a peace plan, and lived up to a cease-fire, despite repeated violations by the separatists -- violations that took the lives of Ukrainian soldiers and personnel."
"...So now is, I think, a somber and appropriate time for all of us to step back and take a hard look at what has happened. Violence and conflict inevitably lead to unforeseen consequences. Russia, these separatists, and Ukraine all have the capacity to put an end to the fighting. Meanwhile, the United States is going to continue to lead efforts within the world community to de-escalate the situation; to stand up for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine; and to support the people of Ukraine as they courageously work to strengthen their democracy and make their own decisions about how they should move forward."
In closing, President Obama said, "The United States of America is going to continue to stand for the basic principle that people have the right to live as they choose; that nations have the right to determine their own destiny; and that when terrible events like this occur, the international community stands on the side of justice and on the side of truth."
For More Information:
- Statement by President Obama on Ukraine
- DipNote Blog on Crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in Eastern Ukraine
- Statement by Secretary Kerry on the Crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in Eastern Ukraine
- Statement by the White House Press Secretary on Malaysian Airlines Flight 17
- Readout of the President’s Call with Prime Minister Rutte of the Netherlands
- Readout of the President’s Call with Prime Minister Najib of Malaysia
- Readout of the President’s Call with President Poroshenko of Ukraine